Goals for every player in Sabres organization: Part IV

Part I

Part II

Part III

Vladimir Sobotka

Find his game in any way he can. Whether that is in Buffalo, Rochester, elsewhere in the NHL/AHL or overseas, I just want the guy to play good hockey. Whether it was the way he was utilized or if he truly is that bad (most would argue it’s the latter), it was rough to watch last season and I don’t want that to happen to anyone in the Sabres organization. Everyone should root for all players of their team to succeed, even after an absolutely brutal year.

Arttu Ruotsolainen

From what we know, it’s Buffalo or back to Finland, so it’s simple: Earn a spot on the Sabres. I don’t want anything handed to anyone, even if that means you lose the player. It was worth the risk when signing him. Ruostsolainen – Larsson – Okposo makes me feel a little better than Girgensons on the left side, but Arttu needs to earn that spot.

Dylan Cozens

I want to see two things from Cozens. While I’d like to see him get his nine games with Buffalo.

I really want to see Cozens:

1. Excel at the World Juniors in whatever role he’s given.

2. Pack on muscle.

He has the height, but definitely needs to fill out as I felt like he relied on his size more than others to dominate in the WHL. That’s not necessarily a negative, he just needs to build the muscle so he can do the same in the NHL, which comes with time and effort.

The easiest comparison for this is Kirby Dach, a tall, dominant player from the WHL, but he tends to play smaller than he really is, thus not as reliant on his size advantage.

Rasmus Ristolainen

If you follow me on twitter, you know I’m more of a Risto defender than others. His advanced stats and charts are horrifying, but expectations and truly terrible hockey teams didn’t help his cause.

Do I think a -41 is unacceptable? Absolutely, he was brutal last year, there’s no denying that, but since he got to Buffalo, he was expected to be a #1 defenseman.

He’s not.

He played as that #1 defenseman during not only the worst years in Buffalo Sabres history, but on teams that were historically bad for the NHL in general.

So, my goal for Risto? If he’s around, show he can play better in a lesser role. I’m not saying it’ll be a night and day kind of change, but playing a bit more “sheltered” will hopefully help.

“But I don’t want a player making $5.4 million a year playing bottom pairing minutes.”

First, he shouldn’t play 5th-6th defenseman minutes, he should be playing second pairing minutes, preferably with Lawrence Pilut, but he’ll be out to start the season.

Second, you’re just going to have to deal with it like Okposo making $6 million on your 4th line. He might not get the haul Sabres fans would be satisfied with, so lets all hope he plays well in a new role and his stock rises.

I’m not willing to die on the Ristolainen hill, at this point who is? That being said, I think he can still be effective, or at least not detrimental, if dispatched in the right situations, one of which being on the powerplay.

Mattias Samuelsson

I look at Samuelsson’s progression to the NHL in one main way: Work on becoming the perfect compliment to a two-way/offensive defenseman that can thrive in the bottom four, likely the bottom pairing in Buffalo.

With players like Ryan Johnson and Will Borgen, I believe Samuelsson can be used a trade bait, but I’m not sure you’ll recoup the value of where he was drafted unless packaged in a larger deal.

Also, I’m not totally willing to part with a player drafted last summer, but it was definitely the safe pick that lit absolutely no one up and parting with Samuelsson would sting less than the other two players mentioned.

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